Monkey Business

Pittsburgh is excited to be part of the launch of the latest volume of Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan. Two events September 20 and 21 will bring together Translation Studies scholars, Japanese writers from Tokyo, two of the world’s leading translators (one American, one Japanese), creative writers from Pittsburgh, and Pitt faculty and students at all levels, as well as interested faculty and students from Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham University.

Now in its seventh year, Monkey Business specializes in high-quality translations from Japanese into English and always includes a few contributions from American writers. The journal’s founder is Motoyuki Shibata, a Tokyo University professor and prolific author and translator in his own right; he is arguably the best-known translator in Japan of American literature (Paul Auster, Kelly Link, Thomas Pynchon and others). Ted Goossen, the other founding editor, is a professor of Japanese literature and film at York University in Toronto. Dr. Goossen is the editor of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories and a translator of contemporary Japanese literature, most notably the recent story collection by Haruki Murakami (Men Without Women, published by Knopf, 2017). The two will be accompanied by Japanese authors Aoko Matsuda, who has published four collections of short stories in Japan and whose work has appeared in Granta, and Satoshi Kitamura, a well-known author of graphic fiction and children’s books. Ms. Matsuda is also the translator for the American author Karen Russell; she has translated Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove.

The first event will consist of an in-class discussion focused on issues of translation. The second event features a panel discussion between Tokyo-based Japanese writers and Pittsburgh-based American writers. These events will draw on the expertise of Pitt’s faculty in English, Italian, and Japanese literatures, all of whom have indicated that they are interested in participating. Anyone interested in translation studies or contemporary literature is invited to attend. We will be joined by interested faculty from Pitt, Chatham, and Carnegie Mellon Universities in Modern Languages, English, and Creative Writing.

As Matthew Sharpe, a New York–based writer, remarked after participating in a similar launch event in New York, “I feel my brain being reconfigured every time I read Monkey Business. The Japanese sense of story is very different from the American or Western sense of story, and it always opens up possibilities for me.”

These events are generously sponsored by the Asian Studies Center, the Humanities Center, French and Italian, and East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh.